Capitol Hill Community Council’s streetcar proposal

 

Vignette
Drawing of proposed street configuration at Broadway & Harrison by Daniel Goddard

At a public meeting last Thursday, the Capitol Hill Community Council released their preferred alignment for the Captiol Hill section of the First Hill Streetcar. Unlike other proposals which would split the route between Broadway and either 11th or 12th Ave., the community council recommended keeping both directions on Broadway north of Union. The proposal, outlined in a memo sent to SDOT and the Mayor’s Office, also includes a separated bike path, and encourages an extension of the line north to Aloha St:

After broad outreach and discussion, the Capitol Hill Community Council has come to three key recommendations for the northern segment of the First Hill streetcar:

  1. Plan to extend to Aloha St. The Aloha extension has been a consistent priority for Capitol Hill ever since the streetcar was first proposed. Even though funding for Aloha St is not yet secured, the extension should be fully designed and brought to a point of being “shovel ready” as part of this project, and the rest of the line should be designed in such a way as to maximize the feasibility of extending to Aloha.
  2. Keep the streetcar on Broadway north of Union St. This keeps the energy and focus on the retail corridor and makes the system simpler and easier to understand, a key factor in attracting new riders. The Cal Anderson Park loop raises safety and running time concerns and interferes with the community’s plans for the redevelopment of Sound Transit’s light rail station properties, particularly the plan to move the Farmer’s Market to Denny Way and Nagle Place.
  3. Reclaim the Street. Make the streetcar a catalyst for reclaiming the use of the right of way on Broadway. Specifically, consider eliminating the center turning lane on Broadway except at the major intersections and repurposing this space for bicycle and pedestrian use.

Read the full memo
View the proposed street configuration

Also at the meeting, Ethan Melone from SDOT presented the different alignments currently being considered by the city. Although a two-way broadway option is being considered (in addition to various couplets), the current proposal from the city has the streetcar terminating on Denny between Broadway and 10th, which raised concerns from members of the community who are hoping to permanently close this section of the street (currently closed for the next six years for U-Link construction) and turn it into a pedestrian plaza as well as a permanent home for the Broadway Farmers Market. Concerns were also raised that this would preclude an extension north to Aloha.

The Seattle City Council will make a final decision regarding the alignment in April, and construction is scheduled to start in fall of 2011.

[UPDATE 12:25 PM: Tony Russo from the Capitol Hill Community Council sent in an updated version of the memo PDF linked above, containing “minor (mostly cosmetic) edits”. The link above now points to the latest version of the document.]

Comments

  1. joshuadf says

    Reclaiming the street is an excellent idea. I don’t understand the configuration, though… is th blue shading the bike lane? Bikes in both directions on the west side of the street?

    I’d also love the Aloha extention since that’s easier walking distance to Volunteer Park, plus north Capitol Hill has a lot of midrise residential density close to I-5. (And, random comment from the Google Map: we had a great staycation at a B&B near Volunteer Park before we had kids.)

    • Mike Skehan says

      Their drawing doesn’t do the idea any justice.
      What are the green circles? New porti-potties?
      Where’s the trolley wire, and how about all those parked cars?
      So much for ‘reclaiming the street’ :=(

      • alexjonlin says

        I think the plan looks great. Are you complaining about the loss of the 49’s trolley wire? Because that bus will mostly go away anyways. And street parking is good for neighborhoods, it provides a buffer between traffic and pedestrians (and in this case bicycles as well).

      • Chris Stefan says

        The connection the 49 provides for North Capitol Hill is important. Furthermore the 49 stops more frequently between Denny (or Aloha) and Pine than the Streetcar will.

        The Rapid Trolley Network plan had some ideas for reroutes of the existing Capitol Hill and First Hill service. However service was still provided along Broadway with the routes extending to the U-District, Downtown, Beacon Hill, and/or Rainier Valley.

      • alexjonlin says

        I said mostly go away, because once the First Hill Streetcar and U Link are up and running, most of the 49’s ridership will go away. It’ll still go, but it should probably just run from Capitol Hill Station to the U District.

      • Mike Skehan says

        Well, if the 49 is mostly going away, so will all the on/offs further than 6-8 blocks from either CHS or Huskey Stadium. I’ll let you break the good news to them.
        I hope the ‘buffer’ between the parked cars is bigger than a wide open door swinging out into traffic. Buses can swerve a tad and stop a heck of a lot quicker than a streetcar to avoid the collision. Also, they should provide classes on parallel parking. A lot of people suck at it, and practicing in front of the tram is a little … unnerving. Oh, and the parked cars are a great place to hide before J-walking.

      • Zef Wagner says

        The 49 won’t go away, but all the people using it to get from Capitol Hill to UW and back will most likely use light rail starting in 2016. So from that point on the 49 goes from an “important” bus route to an “average” bus route. In other words, it will become a neighborhood circulator bus rather than a heavily-used commuter bus. The most obvious effect will probably be a reduction of frequency for the 49 as its ridership declines.

      • Zed says

        I’d like to see the 49 moved to 12th Avenue between Pine and Aloha. With the streetcar and Link there will be no reason for the 49 to go down Broadway anymore, so it might as well be moved over to 12th to provide N-S bus service in that corridor. If people coming from north of Aloha want to go to Broadway they could either walk from 12th, or transfer to the streetcar at Aloha.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Or maybe the 49 can be combined with some of the routes that end at the north end of Cap Hill. The 14 comes to mind.

      • says

        You’d have to string up more wire to move the 49 to 12th Ave though.

        Read Green Metropolis. Cities that don’t prioritize punishment of “jaywalking” (AHEM–NOT Seattle!) are safer for pedestrians.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        The green circles are trees. Parking isn’t always bad for urban spaces especially if it calms the street and helps to separate moving cars from peds.

      • JoshMahar says

        Street parking is always good because, well, the fact remains that not everyone takes transit. Street parking, in front of the business and shops that people want to use is far better than off-street parking, which can be a hassle to get too and takes far more resources to build. Also, reducing the travel lanes but keeping the parking sends the message that this is a place to STAY, not a place to go through.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Street parking might provide a good buffer between vehicles and pedestrians, unless you do something retarded like put traffic lanes down the middle of the sidewalk between the platforms and the sidewalk. Bike lanes are located where in this proposal? that’s right, in a spot that’s bound to get someone hit by a bike.

      • Anandakos says

        What you’re complaining about is exactly what is the norm in the Netherlands. In fact, the red lanes are often completely within the confines of the sidewalk. For North American tourists, it’s a little easy to forget about the bikeway, but one learns about it quickly enough and it really works.

        Of course, the Dutch don’t slam along. They have at most 3 speed bikes with a vertical posture and it’s all very genteel. There are very few to no Lycra fascists.

      • richard says

        do they have a crosswalk going through the middle of the platform? is that even possible? and yes, we need more tree-shaped porta-potties: all the ones currently on broadway are overused.

      • richard says

        what, Tony? does broadway already have crosswalks cutting through bus stops? will probably just need to remove a couple parking spots to put the crosswalk directly north or south of the station platform, unless you want to make wheelchairs hop down 15″ to the street…

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        The retort above was referring to your tree-shaped porta-potty comment.

        With respect to the crosswalk alignment, the memo and design are conceptual. I am not a traffic engineer; I am economist. We are leaving it to SDOT to work out the logistics.

        There are many possible solutions to the issue you bring up. It may make sense to elevate the cycle track to the same level as the sidewalk and have it ramp down at intersections. If we keep it at the same level as the street, (as currently depicted) we would need to add wheelchair ramps, but the platforms are 60 feet long, so the crosswalks could easily be offset from the boarding area, allowing for ample space to ramp down.

        I appreciate that everyone is thinking critically about this. It would be very helpful if folks could offer ideas for solutions in addition to pointing out problems. SDOT is happy to chuck this idea, as it would make their lives easier. If the community does want to see something like this to happen, we need to be a source of solutions.

  2. mikek says

    The bike lane does seem narrow for two way traffic. This seems like a great plan, though, and should really revitalize the Broadway corridor. A lot of people (not readers of this blog) think that de-prioritzing (if that is a word) the auto is bad for business, but in a neighborhood like Capitol Hill, cars mainly just muck things up. Just a few minutes from downtown and the U District by rail, and with the streetcar running the length of Broadway, one can imagine Broadway full of people out for a meal or the night, or just strolling in a lively urban neighborhood.

    • alexjonlin says

      If they do take a whole lane for the bike lane, then that would be five or six feet for each direction, which is pretty spacious. As long as they’re completely redoing Broadway anyways, this sounds like a great plan!

      • Josh says

        WSDOT 1020.06

        (1) Widths
        The desirable width of a shared-use path is
        12 feet. The minimum width is 10 feet. ….
        Use of 12- to 14-foot paths is recommended
        when there will be substantial use by bicyclists,
        or joggers, skaters, and pedestrians.

      • says

        Exactly, that’s the width for paths like the Burke-Gilman and the Sammamish River Trail where you have two way traffic. The shared use doesn’t apply to “bike” lanes along streets. Unfortunately the City of Sammamish decided that what was needed was 12′ sidewalks on one side of the road instead of bike lanes. I believe the standard for bike lanes is 4′ but I think that’s only a recommendation. If you’re riding along side parked cars you need more room. If it’s a shoulder on a 35mph suburban road probably less will get you by depending on what’s to the side. Grass and culvert, good; Curb and sidewalk, ok; hedges, blind driveways, boat trailers, bad. The way they deal with street drains makes a big difference too.

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        Oh, how I wish that were true. There are countless examples of bike lanes in Seattle that are much less than 6′ wide. In fact, I can’t think of many that actually are 6′. If this is a law on the books somewhere, please tell me where. I’d love to see it actually enforced.

      • alexjonlin says

        There are some (or at least one – Ravenna Blvd) but yeah, I’m pretty sure that most are just five feet wide.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Check the United States Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Federal minimum width is 6′.

      • says

        I don’t care what the Federal minimum is, Bellevue is building 5 foot bike lanes. Seattle has tons of less than 5 foot bike lanes and don’t get me started on non-standard Sharrows.

        A 6 foot wide bike lane is a very large bike lane of all the places I bike I honestly can’t think of one (well, there’s a converted car lane in Medina of all places but that doesn’t count). If the feds say all bike lanes should be 6 feet wide, great. I agree with them. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a way to force cities to build them.

      • says

        Can you provide a link to the 6′ minimum? I know there is a guideline (I believe federal) about a “bike path” having something like a 12′ width but that’s for two directions and I’m pretty sure that assumes multi purpose use meaning that they expect walkers on the ROW. Dividing that in half doesn’t equate to a 6′ minimum for a unidirectional path along side a road. Discussions I’ve heard in Bellevue were for a 4′ stripped bike path which corresponds with reality in Kirkland and Redmond. Personally I think 3′ (unencumbered) would be fine. What I really hate are the shoulder/bike path that is squeezed out by road furniture that is supposed to be a “traffic calming” feature. Yeah, narrowing the roadway and putting a bicyclist in the way has a really calming effect on motorists… thanks.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Velo, sharrows are part of the standard, as are the lane widths. 2009 mutcd, it’s on the fhwa’s website in HTML and PDF form, dealer’s choice.

      • says

        Trust us, the US Government says it’s so. Please, a link that points us to the statute. 6′ for one lane of bicycle traffic along a road is absurd. If it did make it into federal code then it’s an obvious attempt to eliminate a bike path. 6′ on an interstate like I-90 maybe; but they allow 4′ storm grates in those “bike paths”.

      • Paul Johnson says

        I have a print copy of the MUTCD. You can get your own copy in HTML or PDF from the FHWA website. Google is your friend; i’m not doing your research for you.

      • Mike says

        Paul- the reason why (at least) I am asking for backup is that I have read the MUTCD (in fact, use it quite often) and I have not seen this. Please give me a reference to the appropriate chapter and paragraph. I am already assuming it is in Chapter 9. Also, reference whether you are using the 2003 or 2009 version. Thanks!

      • Josh says

        WSDOT 1020.07 sets a minimum of four feet for bike *lanes*. But what’s shown in the rendering isn’t a bike *lane*. A bike lane is part of a street. What’s shown is a segregated bicycle path, they have wider minimum widths than a bike lane on a shared roadway.

      • Paul Johnson says

        I consider cycleways to be streets, too. Or are roads only open to HOV, or only open to bus, not have to meet guidelines either?

      • Josh says

        Roads open to motor vehicles have to meet motor vehicle standards.

        Roads open to bicycles have to meet bicycle standards.

        Bike lanes on roads have lower standards than bicycle-only facilities, because roads have an alternative for the cyclist. On a road, when a 4-foot-wide bike lane is blocked or dangerous, the cyclist can simply move into the general-purpose lanes.

        On a segregated bicycle facility, there’s no general-purpose lane to move into, so the bike path itself must be wide enough for safety.

        If a bike lane is part of a wider roadway, it only needs to be 4 feet wide.

        If it’s a bike-only facility, it must be at least six feet wide.

      • Paul Johnson says

        I still find it odd that Washington’s operating on a lower limit for bike lanes adjacent to motor lanes… the lane width addendum to the 2009 MUTCD lists 4′ as only acceptable for a bicycle lane adjacent to another bicycle lane in the same direction, 6′ for bicycle lane adjacent to motor vehicle parking or a general purpose lane, and 8′ for a buffered bike lane (with 2 foot buffers on either side instead of the standard 8″ stripe). Either the printed copy I got from FHWA is screwy or WSDOT has it’s head up it’s ass…

      • josh says

        2009 MUTCD is brand new, at least as an official version. Very few jurisdictions have had time to adopt it yet. I know Seattle hasn’t yet adopted it, haven’t checked with WSDOT lately. I seem to recall it took more than a year to adopt 2003 once it was official.

      • Paul Johnson says

        I seem to recall the 2003 edition had a lane width addendum that wasn’t any different from the 09 edition. Evidence towards this end can be found throughout Oregon and Idaho where bicycle facilities exist.

      • Josh says

        Interesting, then, that all the bicycle lanes illustrated in MUTCD’s examples for road markings are 4-foot bike lanes.

        There doesn’t appear to be a lane width addendum in the on-line version of the 2009 MUTCD, or if there is it doesn’t contain the term “lane width” or “bicycle lane.”

        Reading more of the information on WSDOT’s site, it looks like they might be taking their lane widths from AASHTO, whose current guide for bicycle facilities does specify 4-foot bike lanes on streets.

    • Adam B. Parast says

      When I heard in the memo that they wanted separated bicycle facilities I was thinking of cycle tracks on both sides of the street not one side. I don’t know if that would fit in but generally that is a better solution… although I think this design is *much* more preferable than sharrows.

      • shabadoo says

        Is there a bike-oriented design that is less friendly than sharrows?

        Yes, absolutely. Half-assed bike lanes that end randomly, are too narrow, have terrible sight lines, and so on are much worse than sharrows, or nothing at all.

        Plenty of examples at this slideshow from a while back – it’s from the UK but I’ve seen similar junk here.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Certainly. It always depends on the context. In this case I said better than sharrows because I’m pretty sure that is what Broadway already has.

      • wes kirkman says

        “Wide outside lanes” or “WOL” or “Wide ass lanes that encourage car drivers to drive faster”.

      • says

        I’ll take sharrows that are placed correctly (in the middle of a lane too narrow to share) over a poorly designed bike lane any day. I’ve seen plenty of bike lanes that end abruptly and force the cyclist back out into traffic – It doesn’t get any less friendly, or more dangerous, than that.

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        The proposal is intended to be a starting point for conversation with SDOT. The specific configuration is not the point; it’s the concept of taking out a traffic lane and giving it to bike/ped uses that we were trying to get across. If separate tracks on each side of the street would work better, we’re happy to entertain that idea.

        In case there are some traffic engineers out there who would like to play around with the idea, Broadway is 50′ from curb to curb. Here’s the allocation of space from left to right:

        8′ – two-way cycle track
        4′ – second planter strip
        8′ – parking
        11′ – southbound lane
        11′ – northbound lane
        8′ – parking

        Streetcar / bus / delivery vehicles needs at least 11′. Parking is typically 7′, but we gave it an extra foot for cushion because the streetcar can’t swerve wide if someone parks too far from the curb. See if you can come up with something better. We’d love to have new ideas. Again, it’s the concept that we were shooting for.

      • Chris Stefan says

        How would the planting strip work with ADA requrements? I’m thinking of a wheelchair user exiting curbside. I’d think the “planting strip” would have to effectively be a second sidewalk.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Also any chance of dropping the parking on the cycletrack side? That would make more room for a center planting strip that would also give space for platforms at the streetcar stops.

      • Zef Wagner says

        I’m with Chris on the planter strip. It should be eliminated in favor of a strip of sidewalk or just have the cylce-track, parking, and street all be one level like it is in Alki in West Seattle. The planter strip will just be awkward for people getting out of their cars to get to the sidewalk.

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        There’s no chance of dropping the parking, unless we were to put angle parking on the opposite side of the street. It’s enough of a challenge to get businesses on board with de-prioritizing autos; taking out parking is a non-starter.

        The concern with removing the planting strip is that there needs to be some significant physical barrier to prevent cars from parking on the bicycle track, simply striping it is not likely to be effective. I am personally a fan of elevating the cycle track to be at the same level as the sidewalk / planter strip and ramping down at the intersections.

        Thoughts?

      • Adam B. Parast says

        @ Tony

        Actually significant physical barriers are needed mostly if there isn’t any parking adjacent to the cycle track. If drivers are bad and parking and the cycle track is at the same level as cars there also needs to be a c curb or something as well to keep drivers from pinching the cycle track.

        Ideally cycle tracks should be about 1/2 in lower than the sidewalk with a different paving material (asphalt is smoothest and it can be colored maybe even blue or green). But then again that is expensive to redo everything, however you should speak to SDOT about how many of the concrete panels they are going to replace. A good number on the north end of Broadway need to be replaced (I believe) and if a enough to have to be replaced the cost of more substantial work might be less than expected.

      • alexjonlin says

        Yeah I think the planting strip is important. That way there’s no chance of delivery trucks stopping in the bike lane, or stupid drivers parking in the bike lane, or anything else like that. Plus, it makes it so that there’s almost no chance of a bicyclist hitting a car door (unless someone’s car has a really big door).

      • Paul Johnson says

        That’s not very important in practice, the planting strip. Portland’s Broadway has an 8-foot bike track (one way, there’s really zero room for bi-directional travel even if it were a two-way street on a track that narrow), with a two foot painted median between the track and motorist parking. Parking Enforcement and enthusiastic wrecker operators are more than happy to go ninja on misplaced cars with surprising ferocity.

      • Everett_cuppajoe says

        Would the neighborhood entertain the idea of taking out a couple parking spaces next to the cycle track for bike racks or some kind of storage? There are a lot of really interesting concepts to choose from, new styles with greater security and capacity. They could easily be manufactured in the area, generating employment right here. Lose parking for 2 cars = Gain parking for 20 bikes = more customers who didn’t just waste money on gas to get to your store, so still have it to spend. More options to get to the Streetcar. Less clutter of bikes locked to any fixed object…
        Also if it snows, will someone plow the biketrack? please.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Great point about the redistribution of space. That should be the primary goal but the actual design can vary.

        One point that I would add, regardless of the cycle track’s location, is that at intersections the cycle track should neck down to straddle the travel lanes mostly on the near side of the intersection. This is the newer design of cycle track that I have seen in Europe (see this example in Stockholm, it is less than ~2 years old) and helps to improve the visibility of cyclist to turning traffic. Lack of bicyclist visibility is probably the largest safety issue with cycle tracks and by designing it with the buffer found in cycle tracks but the visibility of a bicycle lane through the intersection you kind of get the best of both worlds. The angle on the approaches is a bit sharp in my opinion but maybe this was done to get cyclist to be more aware of cars on their left before entering the intersection. Other things this does is puts bicyclist where pedestrians expect them so you don’t have pedestrians walking out in front of cyclist when the cyclist has a green light.

        With all that said this is just a detail that I’m sure would be hashed out if something amazing like this happens.

      • Zef Wagner says

        Could any of the sidewalk be taken for the bike track? I would normally never advocate that, but the space between the bike track and parking amounts to an extra strip of sidewalk anyway. I think people might be willing to go from a 15′ sidewalk to a 12′ sidewalk on one side if it means more space for bikes.

      • JoshMahar says

        Another option is keeping the cycle track raised to the sidewalk level (but very clearly marked of course). This would allow bikers and pedestrians to better utilize the space during busy times. For example, if a few people are standing in the cycle track as they are moving to the streetcar stop then the cyclists would be able to swerve onto the regular sidewalk instead of just bumping up to the curb.

        Keeping them all at a similar height would also improve ADA accessibility to the streetcar stops.

        You could lower them a bit as they go through intersections but keeping them at least slightly raised would also ensure that vehicles make turns very slowly and carefully through the cycle track.

      • Zef Wagner says

        That’s a great idea, Josh. That way it could basically be an extension of the sidewalk. It also just occurred to me that if space or money are a problem, you could get rid of the strip between the cycle track and the parking. They don’t have one at Alki in West Seattle and it seems to work fine.

      • Paul Johnson says

        I’d rather see rails preventing pedestrian crossing where there isn’t a crosswalk on the cycle track. Portland does this in the few spots they need to get a bicycle lane behind a streetcar stand.

      • Paul Johnson says

        So 4′ bicycle lanes in both directions? Has SDOT even looked at the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices? That’s two feet narrower than the minimum allowed bicycle lane width!

      • Zed says

        Did you actually read the blog post or any of the comments Paul? This is just a conceptual proposal put forward by the Capitol Hill Community Council.

      • wes kirkman says

        I believe the requirement can be fudged with a two-way path because bicyclists can use the oncoming lane when there isn’t an oncoming cyclist…happens all the time in the oft cited bicycle utopias. Besides, MUTCD is a party-pooper idea-squasher. Everything has to conform to a set of blanket rules devoid of context.

      • Mike says

        You also may need to check out the RCW. I believe there is a requirement that bike paths be a minimum of 10 feet wide (AASHTO allows 8-feet). Depending on how you classify it, an 8-ft wide pathway may not be acceptable.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Adam, federal requirements say 6′, which override state requirements on this matter. Wes, no, the requirement can’t be fudged any more than you can have less than the minimum lane width on a two-lane street intended for motorists. If anything, oncoming vehicles require MORE separation, not less.

      • Mike says

        Paul-What federal requirements are you referencing? The dimensions which Adam has noted the minimums per AASHTO’s most recent Guidelines for the Development of Bicycle Facilities. As noted in the title, these are guidelines. I know of a jurisdiction which is using a 3-ft wide lane between a right turn lane and through lane. It isn’t great (they even admit it) but it allows for a continuous facility.

    • josh says

      AASHTO calls for a ten-foot width for most separated two-direction multi-use paths, increasing to twelve or fourteen feet in areas with significant pedestrian/bike/stroller etc traffic. (AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities) Even at that width, the safe speed limit on the path shown would be low enough that safety (and Seattle policy) would have faster cyclists riding in the general traffic lanes, not the path.

      The rendering also doesn’t have compliant shy distance on the sides of the path; it appears to show non-compliant bollards in the path; the intersection treatment lacks required signage and markings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a dangerous and untenable plan — it’s an artistic rendering that also leaves out wheelchair ramps, parking signage, bike racks, and all sorts of other details that would have to be in the real design.

      But it is a good heads-up to cyclists to take a closer look at whatever designs do come forward, since so many cycling facilities are designed by and for non-cyclists.

  3. Lightning says

    I think an extension to Aloha Street ought to be a priority. U-Link will tunnel directly underneath Volunteer Park, but, alas, no station. That park contains the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the conservatory, the watertower, and adjacent to it, Lakeview Cemetery, all well-known abd frequented destinations. Admittedly, not everyone would be able to walk to these sites (up the hill) from Aloha and Tenth, but many could and the streetcar could be said to “go somewhere”.

    • Lloyd says

      The 10 already goes to Volunteer Park on the east side of the park and certainly ought to be an early candidate for conversion to streetcar service from V Park to the Pike Place Market.

      Moving the 9 and/or the 49 to 12th Avenue would yield a stop at 12th and Aloha requiring a little less hill climbing than from the streetcar terminus at 10th and Aloha.

      • alexjonlin says

        I was thinking that a streetcar line could go from Volunteer Park down 15th to Madison, then jog down Madison to 12th and then interline with the First Hill line down to Pioneer Square. That way you could serve Volunteer Park and the commercial parts of 15th and 12th.

    • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

      The north end of the Broadway business district contains about 70% of the retail space on Broadway, and retail generates a lot more trips per square foot than office space or residential (ask Adam for exact numbers; i’m sure they exist). If that’s not “somewhere” then I’m not sure what is. Of course, the connection to Volunteer park is great, perhaps we should push to take it to Prospect Street instead.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        They do but I don’t have the books that have them. The ULI or ITE travel demand generation books give you a good idea of the relative activity of each land use type although it won’t pick up the difference for example between Dicks and the old Jack in the Box.

      • Zef Wagner says

        If the money can be found the streetcar should absolutely be extended as far north as possible. Once 10th starts getting steep downhill, though, it won’t work anymore.

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        I don’t believe 10th ever gets too steep for a streetcar. The 49 is an old streetcar line so unless they were using a counterbalance, it should be possible to extend all the way to the U-district someday. This would allow the streetcar to fill in the gaps between the (very widely spaced) light rail stations.

      • Zef Wagner says

        Ethan Melone has told me that modern streetcars can handle hills that steep but they become incredibly inefficient, especially going downhill, so operating costs go through the roof. I don’t know the technical reasons, but that’s what he said.

      • lightning says

        “If that’s not “somewhere” then I’m not sure what is.”

        I was only kidding. Take off on Link, before it REALLY went somewhere. Kidding there, too.

    • Gordon Werner says

      does running both directions on Broadway preclude a turning loop at the north end of the line? or will the Trams have to reverse like they do on Eastlake in the center of traffic?

      Why terminate the tramline at Aloha and not Volunteer Park? (somewhere near Galer street)

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        Money is the only reason not to go farther north. The primary purpose of the extension is to connect the entire length of the Broadway business district, which ends between Roy and Aloha. I would love to take it one stop further to St Marks / Volunteer Park around Galer. One step at a time.

      • Gordon Werner says

        no I agree … just wasn’t sure whether the decision to stop was based on funding, practicality, physical space, or something else.

        I definitely think though that they should build the line to extend it to at least Galer … which would also connect people to LINK and the park.

  4. Joe G says

    This is a GREAT solution for the streetcar alignment. I especially like having a completely separated bike path on Broadway. It is an excellent opportunity to show the city how our bike infrastructure can and should be set up.

    • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

      Hopefully, if we pull this off, we can end this pointless and unnecessary “bikes vs streetcar” conflict. There are many ways, our proposal being only one of them, that we can have world class bicycle and transit infrastructure on the same street. It’s amazing how much space there is for everything else when you downsize the space we turn over to cars. If our idea becomes a model, then the bicycle and transit community can begin to team up and bring this treatment to other future streetcar extensions. Eastlake anyone?

      • Chris Stefan says

        I’m guessing in the areas where there is a streetcar stop the parking is dropped on one side or the other to make room for the platform, correct?

      • mikek says

        I agree 100%. This is the place where we can show Seattle that in an urban setting, transit, feet, and bikes should take priority, not only to help reduce carbon output and meet those goals, but to increase the livability of the city.

      • Chris Stefan says

        There have been proposals to replace the 70 with an extension of the SLUT up Eastlake to Campus Parkway then up University Way to 50th. I’m in favor of that but I’d love to see the line extended along University Way and 15th to 65th, then along 65th to Ravenna and Ravenna to East Green Lake.

      • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

        Unfortunately, the Ave has a 70′ right of way while Broadway is 85′. That extra 15′ is where we get the space for the cycle track. There are three ways it could work on University Way:

        1.) Take out a lane of parking (good luck)
        2.) Make Brooklyn / University Way a one-way couplet. Then you could shrink The Ave to a single vehicle travel lane.
        3.) Use Eminent Domain to buy up and tear down every building on one side of the street and widen the ROW by 15′, making it the most expensive and hated bicycle path in history.

        Probably a better solution is to build a high-quality bicycle facility on Brooklyn and reroute bikes there.

      • alexjonlin says

        1. Yeah probably not a good idea, both from a business and an urban design standpoint.
        2. No!! One-way streets decimate thriving business districts.
        3. Lol yeah not going to happen that would be awful.

        I agree, a bike path all along Brooklyn from the foot of the street at Portage Bay to the top at Roosevelt would be great.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Completely agree. The “bikes vs streetcar” conflict was created by poor planning and design of both bicycle and streetcar facilities. Its not either or, you just have to have good designs. Look at Portland. They have huge numbers of bicyclist and rails galore.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Portland beat you to it. On the other hand, Portland cyclists seem to know that rails will kick your ass if you hit ‘em at low angles with skinny tires, and either ride with really wide tires, or cross at high angles, or just learn to bunnyhop. The point being, Portland cyclists have had to deal with tracks in the streets for 20+ years, and there’s a lot more cyclists in Portland with a lot fewer idiot versus track accidents down there.

        Perhaps Seattle is attempting to solve a social problem through a technological means. Good luck with that!

      • Michael says

        And since we’re large city #2 to build a modern streetcar network along with a bike network, we better get it right going forward. Do you realize how many cities will be looking to us on “how to get it right”? Yes, they will always look to Portland as well, but we’re coming up on their heels and people will be checking to see if we did it well.

  5. Matt the Engineer says

    I haven’t looked at the route yet, but I love that drawing. Curb bulbs all over the place, wide bike lane and sidewalks, narrow 1-lane streets. I can imagine being in a car and feeling like I don’t belong on that street, and would probably only drive there if I were looking for parking for one of those businesses.

  6. Paul Johnson says

    Given that contraflow bicycle lanes adjacent to motorized traffic on a two-way street is both confusing and dangerous, why not put a two-lane cycle track on both sides of the street, with both lanes of each cycle track being one way, in the direction of adjacent traffic? This gives cyclists the opportunity to pass, without setting up cyclists in one direction for hook collisions from oncoming cyclists and motorists alike. Road users don’t expect any vehicles to be going in the opposite direction on the left!

    Or, an even better idea: Make the bicycle lanes the leftmost (central) lanes on the street, such as found in New York. Sure, this would make turning left in a car illegal, but honestly, if you’re driving on an alternative transport corridor such as the one proposed, do you really expect it to be easy?

    • Zef Wagner says

      Your proposal sounds good, but I don’t think Broadway has enough ROW to accomodate that much bike track space. You would have to drop parking which is not a good idea and will never happen anyway. The only way would be to make the sidewalks smaller, which is probably also a bad idea. In general left turns will be difficult with this proposed configuration–the city could possibly ban left turns during rush hour to deal with it.

      • Paul Johnson says

        So get rid of the motorist parking. They have legs, they can walk an extra block. Forgive me for thinking a transit corridor shouldn’t bend over backwards for accommodating motorists.

      • Zef Wagner says

        So you want people to park on residential side streets? Not gonna happen. The community and business would be in an uproar. This doesn’t really qualify as bending over backwards for motorists, it’s just good urban design. On-street parking is good for business and good for pedestrians. Walking on a sidewalk is much more pleasant when there is a row of cars separating you from the traffic. Do a comparison sometime between walking on Broadway and walking on 23rd (which doesn’t have on-street parking) to see what I mean. Anyway, the only credible alternative to on-street parking would be a huge parking garage nearby. Do we want that? No.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Again, fuck motorists. They can walk. They can take the tram. They can even grab a bicycle. If you want a design more conducive to travel by means other than personal automobiles, you have to be more open to the idea that motorists are NOT part of the equation to be solved.

      • Matt says

        On what planet do people stop driving all together? Yes, the goal is definitely to reduce reliance on the automobile, but making Broadway go from all auto traffic to zero auto traffic is lunacy.

      • says

        If you want a design more conducive to travel by means other than personal automobiles, you have to be more open to the idea that motorists are NOT part of the equation to be solved.

        You can design your ass off, unless you can convince the public that will pay for and use your design, then “fuck motorists” will keep your design on pretty paper forever and ever. That attitude not only won’t contribute to progress along the lines of your vision, it will likely boomerang by way of negative backlash and alienate many who might otherwise be allies to that vision.

        The reality is that regardless of how justified you may believe your views to be, that isn’t equivalent to dictatorial powers and unlimited funding.

        You want to design a society in line with your “fuck motorists” vision? Go buy yourself an island, declare yourself ruler and start writing checks. Until then, you’ll need to promote change by working with the rest of us.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Maybe if you drive. But if you actually care about making an alternative transport corridor rather than just playing lip-service to the idea, it’s something to realistically consider.

      • alexjonlin says

        They could use exactly the same amount of space and put a 4′ wide bike lane on either side next to the sidewalks. I think two 4′ wide one-way bike lanes are safer than one two-way 8′ wide bike lane, as you can’t swerve into oncoming traffic.

      • josh says

        AASHTO minimum width for a one-way cycling path is six feet. Four feet is dangerously narrow and would get the city sued by injured cyclists.

      • Josh says

        Note, too, that bike *paths* are different from bike *lanes.* A segregated facility, separate from the general-purpose lanes, needs to be wider for safe cycling than a lane that’s part of a wider street. Where a narrow bike lane is part of a street, cyclists can leave the bike lane and use the general-purpose lane as necessary.

  7. Paul Johnson says

    Another thing I just thought of… if you’re going to expect cyclists in one direction to ride against the flow, how do you propose they enter end leave that track? If they’re not given dedicated signals and turn lanes to accomplish this, good luck getting people to use it!

    • Zef Wagner says

      This will take some planning but I’m sure it is doable. This design is used all over the world, expecially in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark. Presumably SDOT could find a wealth of information on how to safely handle the bikes and cars.

      • Mike says

        Actually, this is not done all over the world. When “cycle tracks” are used, they are typically one way and have their own signals at intersections.

        You’re right though that there is a lot of information out there. Sadly, when these types of facilities are applied to situations common in the US, they result in higher collision rates. That being said, there is a promising design coming out of New York City and I think one in Long Beach, CA as well. One thing we need to remember is that direct application of things that work in Europe to the US is not always a slam dunk.

        On the continent, many people spend years and huge amounts of money to get a drivers license. This also results in a higher usage of bicyclists and, although I haven’t seen a study on it, could result in a higher recognition of the rights and responsibilities of motorists towards bicyclists as the motorist likely has been one or has family or friends who are currently bicyclists.

        I know that we are just looking at a high planning level document but it is good to think of the consequences that a design could result in. As both a transit rider and an occasional cyclist, I don’t want to see SDOT repeat the errors of the SLU streetcar.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Bicycle facilities, more so that sidewalks and roads, are context sensitive. So yes they use two way paths in some places and one way in other places. Sweden out of all other Scandinavian countries has leaned the most towards two way paths in an urban context but that is changing and one way cycle tracks are the norm in situations that are most applicable to the US.

      • justin says

        I really don’t like two way bike lanes, every time I ride on I90 I feel like I am going to hook horns with the other bikers, it’s just unnerving when moving so fast.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        I-90 and Broadway are completely different contexts. I certainly hope you won’t be riding the same speed. That is the whole point of cycle tracks. They are designed for slower bicycling.

      • Mike says

        But, Adam, shouldn’t we design facilities for cyclists who want to go somewhere as fast as they can? I am not trying to be snarky but just asking a question. One thing that cycle tracks have a hard time addressing is the fact that some cyclists will chose the roadway option. Maybe they are the weekend warriors who do the STP in one day but they are out there and we should accommodate them as much as we accommodate the novice cyclist or the family who wants to go to a cafe on Sunday morning. Motorists, whether we like it or not, will feel that cyclists should always be on the cycle track and feel like they own the road more than ever.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Mike well that is a question to be answer. Who do you design for? On Broadway I certainly believe it should be the 10 year old kid, on Lake Washington Blvd. probably the STP jock.

        In a broader sense who do you want to design for? A narrow segment of the population or the whole population? You can make arguments for both but I personally lean towards the design that targeted at the largest potential cycling population. That is the only way to increase the number of cyclist substantially.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Why not design for both in both places? Limiting yourself artificially to just one particular group of riders doesn’t do anything to make Seattle a world-class bicycle city. If granny doesn’t feel comfortable on a beach cruiser, and the STP jock can’t get around granny, then the design is crap.

      • josh says

        Average U.S. bicycle commuters, not STP jocks, have an average speed around 15mph. That’s fast enough to make many narrow bi-directional trails more dangerous to cyclists than mixing it up with cars in the street.

      • Paul Johnson says

        The difference between what’s going on in this proposal and the Cope Lefts in Portland is that Portland has signals for the Cope Left. You also don’t have motorized cross traffic to interfere with the bicycle turn lane required for the Cope Left. No turn lanes appear to be in the proposal, so either cyclists are getting their own signal phase or they’re doing it wrong. I suspect the latter, given that 4′ lanes are a whole ⅓ of a lane too narrow for bicycle traffic in the first place…

      • Adam B. Parast says

        I’m not sure I follow. I think this is too detailed of a conversation to have online. I’m sure that the details form this can be worked out.

    • says

      There’s no reason why you can’t have separate signals for bikes. Even Montreal does it for pete’s sake.

      I fail to see how counterflow bike lanes are dangerous or confusing. I’d like to see more of them on one-way streets.

      • Bruce says

        Might not be for the bicyclists, but it puts them in an unexpected place, going the “wrong” way, relative to the expectations and experience of both pedestrians and drivers.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Contraflow bike lanes aren’t a bad thing when they’re to the left of oncoming traffic and the only lane going against traffic. This proposal puts the contraflow to the right of oncoming traffic (against the flow of adjacent traffic in adjacent lanes on either side!), meaning cyclists will be coming from a direction other road users are not likely to look when making turns across the cycletrack. Beaverton, Oregon has such a track along Farmington Road (with the westbound bicycle lane between eastbound motorists and eastbound bicycles, meaning that bicycles changing lanes to turn left eastbound or right westbound have to cross an oncoming bicycle lane or two oncoming motorist lanes to get to the proper lane to turn, respectively): It’s a deathtrap and is being phased out in favor of a more standard lane placement.

  8. Zef Wagner says

    The main reaction against this proposal will be that eliminating the center turn lane will slow traffic to a crawl due to cars turning left. We need to anticipate these arguments and respond to them.

    First of all, the center lane is rarely used except during rush hour. Most of the time it is just a big waste of space in the middle of the road. The city could restrict left turns during rush hour on certain intersections to deal with the removal of the center turn lane.

    Secondly, even if it does slow down traffic, is that a bad thing? Many of us in the community feel that Broadway should have more of a “main street” feel rather than being a throughway for lots of cars. Having a streetcar and removing the center lane will act as a traffic calming device and may actually encourage drivers to stop and shop the businesses instead of speeding through.

    Third, people forget that drivers quickly change their behavior when situations change. If traffic is slowed down on broadway, a lot of drivers who are just cutting through will find alternate routes like 12th or 15th or 23rd, so the impact on Broadway won’t be as bad as feared. Also the streetcar and bike track hopefully will draw some people out of their cars.

    One thing to also keep in mind is that the center turn lane is sometimes used by trucks serving local businesses. People will complain about this, so any plans we come up with need to ensure adequate loading zones wide enough for trucks to park without blocking the streetcar. It may be tricky but I’m sure it can be done.

    • Chris Stefan says

      Well on much of Broadway there aren’t actually driveways to turn into so the center left turn lane is mostly useless except at intersections (note this applies in many areas of the city).

      For that matter I’m all for eliminating ALL left turns on any 2 lane street with a streetcar or that is a major transit route. Morons turning left are a major source of congestion and accidents.

      As for trucks using the center lane as a loading zone, I’m not sure what the best solution is, perhaps space marked out on Broadway or the side streets for loading zone use only? As far as I know parking in the center left turn lane is actually illegal. However the police rarely ticket commercial vehicles for that.

      • Zef Wagner says

        Yeah, really creating more designated loading zones is something that Broadway needs anyway, since as you say the current practice is illegal. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to get the business community on board.

      • says

        The new Sprinter design of delivery vehicle is narrower than the old box van- it will easily fit in the width of any passenger car parking. UPS continues to build their own vans, but I’m guessing they can adapt pretty quickly when they have to.

      • Anc says

        Are the Sprinters still being sold here? To my knowledge those were just rebadged Mercedes vans, and now that Mercedes has divulged itself of Chrysler I wonder how long that relationship will continue.

      • Brendan M. says

        Yes, the Sprinter is still sold in the United States. I believe that the American version of the Sprinter is built by Freightliner (despite the Dodge badges) from a complete knock down kit. I’m not fully aware of the details of the Daimler-Chrysler-Freightliner relationship, or how it will affect future versions of the Sprinter.

    • jonglix says

      Zef raises some really good points here. I really can’t see this working without left turns being prohibited or else the slowness on Broadway will really be debilitating. Forcing driviers to make 3 rights instead of left does seem plausible here but might increase traffic on the side streets. Deliveries may be a bigger issue. There are no alleys behind most of the businesses and the current loading zones do not seem to do the trick. More would be need, cutting into space for parking.

      Overall this definitely appeals as a cool idea but I’d like to see more about how it will impact mobility along the current route 49. I imagine this route will remain very important at least until Link makes it to the core of the University District as opposed to just Husk Stadium.

  9. Kaleci says

    I like the proposed configuration – however, I would consider eliminating left turns from Broadway (allow right turns only).

  10. Jonathan Dubman says

    What a great letter from the Capitol Hill Community Council. It is very thoughtfully written and makes a compelling case.

    South of Union, my inclination at this point is to prefer a simple and direct all-Broadway alignment with new bus service on 12th Ave., preferably with quiet electric trolley buses if that can work. I think that strikes a good balance in terms of the walk-sheds and it’s certainly easiest to comprehend. But I have heard good arguments for each alignment and I respect the diversity of opinions about that stretch. None of it is in my backyard.

  11. Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

    Thank you everyone for your comments. As you can see, there are lots of opportunities, but also lots of challenges. We believe these problems can be solved if and only if SDOT feels there is strong community support for the idea. If they are going to invest the planning and design effort, they need to be sufficiently motivated to do so.

    Community Council is taking the idea to the City Council and the Mayor.

    If you would like to get involved in our lobbying campaign, please send an e-mail to CHCC.Officers@gmail.com. Give us your contact info and we will put you on our e-mail list for campaign updates and volunteer opportunities.

    Thanks!

      • Paul Johnson says

        Bombardier is a Canadian company: It’s more of a Canadian style, really. The Škoda models you see now are available in 3, 4, and 5 segment models already, though thanks to buy american clauses, only the Oregon-built 3-segment Škoda model is available stateside.

      • Zed says

        Actually most of Bombardier Transportation’s current products came from AdTranz, a German company that Bombardier acquired in 2001. Bombardier Transportation is headquartered in Berlin. The 100% low-floor Flexity that is on display in Vancouver is based on the AdTranz Incentro.

      • Paul Johnson says

        Semantics aside, that doesn’t stop the fact that they’re not available to us in the US, and you gotta go with the Pento tram in however many segments they’re willing to build for you at this point.

      • Zed says

        Not necessarily. If no federal funds are used for the First Hill Streetcar they can buy streetcars from any company they wish.

      • Gordon Werner says

        IIRC … United Railcar (or whatever the Oregon Inekon/Skoda licensee is named) is willing to build the 5-segment Pento version of the 3-segment Trio as used by the SLUT.

        You can be pretty sure though that Seattle is going to go with that design (the SLUT) for future streetcar lines (3 or 5 segment versions) … due to both the factory in Portland and for fleet commonality

  12. Anc says

    Um… Am I looking at the top picture wrong, or are two children about to be run over by the Streetcar? LOL

    First off, thanks to Tony for doing all the work that has sparked this conversation and allowed everyone to tell him what he did wrong. :p Seriously, good job, and thanks.

    If given a simple up and down vote I would most definitely give it up an up. Some thoughts though… from what I remember of Germany the bicycle lanes were only separated by about a 4 to 6 inch wide double curb, is there a reason the one here looks so wide? Also if memory serves they were usually only a couple of feet wide (Moenchengladbach and Mannheim were the main cities I rode bikes in). If curbs and lanes were to be reduced could you have one way bike lanes on both sides? If not, how much sidewalk would have to be taken out to make this possible?

    • Anc says

      And of course I have to type this at the same time as Tony thanks everyone for their thanks, and now appear to be toadying… Not to mention it took what little funny my joke had and squashed it… :/ Ah, well, whatchagonnado….

    • Gordon Werner says

      heh … I only saw the pantograph connecting to dual overhead lines creating a short circuit … still a nice sketch if you ask the non-artist that is me.

  13. says

    Might be worth doing a drawing of an alternate config with bike lanes 5 feet wide on both sides of the street. As I read it, the proposed bike lane is 8 feet wide already, so getting another two feet out of the sidewalk, parking strip, and planter strip should be doable. I doubt the bikes will be moving very fast in any case.

    • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

      We actually had two designs initially. The other one did have separate bike lanes for each direction. We decided to collapse to one in order to make the presentation simpler since it was primarily conceptual anyway. I’ll ask Daniel, who made the streetscape graphics, to put together an alternate configuration to include in version 2.0. We will be posting revisions to the memo to our campaign website as soon as we launch our campaign website. :-)

    • josh says

      It would be good to see two versions with compliant bicycle facilities —

      8 feet is too narrow for a bi-directional path. As much bike and pedestrian traffic as you see on Broadway today, I’d expect even the usual 10-foot standard would be too narrow for safety.

      One-way bicycle paths can be as narrow as 6 feet (plus shy distance on the sides), so there could be room to squeeze them in with narrower sidewalks and planting strips.

      • dang (aka "Daniel") says

        The proposals we put forward strove to maintain the existing curb lines. I know, very pragmatic and not visionary? But that is precisely the item Ethan zeroed in on in the CHCC presentation.

        As for narrowing sidewalks to increase the width of the bike lanes, that is completely counter to the ideas we are pushing. If anything, we should look to expand the pedestrian realm. It’s not just about the streetcar. Nor is it just about cycle tracks. Instead, it’s about the opportunities presented to re-envision what can be done with the ROW through the introduction of the streetcar, which includes providing opportunities for both bicycles and pedestrians. If that means the bikes in the bike lanes need to go a bit slower, I am fine with that. Calming auto traffic and making the environment more hospitable to pedestrians is one of the intentions of the proposal. Calming auto traffic to allow unfettered bike traffic is again counter.

      • dang (aka "Daniel") says

        Forgot to add: Tony and I discussed separate bike lanes. I explored the bi-directional lanes primarily while considering a one-way street car configuration. This gets bike lanes on the opposite side of the street from the streetcar improving track crossings while on bikes. Yes, it makes turning a little more complicated, but I’m thinking bike boxes a la Portland.

        So the bi-directional version is perhaps a bit of a vestige of the previous investigations. Some of the advantages of the bi-directional approach is more efficient use of the ROW, since there’s not a ton of space. Coupling the bike lanes eliminates one of the shy zones. The planted strip between the parked cars and bikes was a bit of a last minute add. We discussed raising the bike lane to sidewalk level, which I think has many merits and would make the 4′ bike lane widths less critical.

        That said, in our next go around, we’ll definitely show a version with separate bike lanes, as well as center platforms.

      • josh says

        Please also look at the appropriate standards for width of bicycle facilities.

        If they’re physically segregated from the general purpose lanes, AASHTO guidelines and WSDOT standards do not allow 4-foot one-way or 8-foot two-way bicycle paths. The 4-foot minimum applies to bicycle lanes that are part of a broader roadway, where cyclists can merge out of the bike lane to avoid hazards.

        If the bike facility is a physically separate path, rather than a painted lane on the road, WSDOT minimum width is 6 foot one-way, 10 foot two-way.

  14. Crazy Man says

    Are street cars more capable of negotiating hills than LINK?

    Another poster said that LINK was incompatible with Queen Anne for example.

    So do street cars have a technological edge over LINK with hills?

    • alexjonlin says

      Maybe a slight one, but a streetcar couldn’t get up the Counterbalance either. You’d need a cable car.

    • Gordon Werner says

      most modern streetcars and LRVs can handle grades up to 9%. If the city wanted to run a tram line to upper queen anne … they’d have to follow the route 3/4 bus up the east side of QA hill (5th Ave N). For the counter-ballance … you’d either need a true cable car (like SFO) or they’d have to rebuild the counter-ballance weight system that they used to use to bring street cars up that hill.

      The only technical edge that the SLUT style tram has over the LINK style LRV is size. The SLUT has a much smaller turning radius than the LINK LRVs (which is a min. of 82 feet) … the SLUT would have no problem turning off of Boston St. onto Queen Anne Ave.

      Note: while the LINK LRVs use 1500v DC (the SLUT uses 700v DC) this is only to reduce the number of required electrical substations and has no bearing on the vehicles tractive capacity (per Kinkisharyo spokesman)

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Small note. The maximum grade depends on the length of the grade. The absolute maximum grade is higher than the sustained maximum grade.

      • Gordon Werner says

        true … but the 5th ave route up to the top of Queen Anne hill is much much less than 9% … so it is feasable

  15. Michael says

    Everyone has been talking about getting the First Hill Streetcar to Aloha. From what I understand, ST budgeted $140m in ST2 for the line. I heard rumors that it shouldn’t cost more than $120m to build this thing and even the city said they could do it for $90m. While I think the $90m figure may be too low, considering the bad economy, maybe they can get the bid closer to the $120m figure. If that’s the case, would that be enough to extend it to Aloha?

    • Tony the Economist (Memo Author) says

      Back of the envelop cost estimate is $20 to $30 million for the extension. I believe ST budgeted $133 million, not $140, but still, if we can bring the southern portion in for under $100 million we’re golden.

  16. eddiew says

    history: in 1937, the Broadway streetcar extended to the U District via the path of the current Route 49. why did SDOT not study a longer streetcar? In Portland, their streetcar goes through downtown and extends to Portland State and had parking revenue devoted to its service subsidy. in Seattle, the SLU streetcar does not extend to the U District nor penetrate downtown and did not have its service subsidy lined up.

    suppose Broadway does have fifty feet of ROW, curb to curb. It now has five lanes: two travel lanes, two parking lanes, and a two-way left turn lane. transit, whether bus or streetcar should stop in-lane in urban centers. the bus pullouts in the parking area become traps with heavy traffic in the single lane of travel. cyclists are threatened with getting doored. too much ROW is wasted on left turns.

    provide parallel parking on the west (southbound or inbound) side of Broadway with bus bulbs (extensions of the sidewalk to the travel lane with room for shelters and passenger information). use seven feet for that.

    provide four travel lanes with 11, 10, 10, and 12 feet of width from west to east. paint sharrows, but encourage through riders to use 12th Avenue East.

    build a garage with short term parking managed by the Broadway business district with SHA senior housing atop it. market the parking with signage.

    provide bike lanes on 12th Avenue between South Jackson Street and East Aloha Street.

    take the ST funds and use them to improve the electrict trolleybus routes 49, 3, and 4 by providing new overhead on between Jefferson Street and 3rd Avenue via Yesler Way and a Pioneer Square turn around loop for Route 49. when the Broadway Link station opens, Route 49 would go between the U District and South Jackson Street via Capitol Hill, Broadway, Madison Street, 9th Avenue, and Yesler Way. with the ST funds, run Route 49 every five minutes. its path via Yesler would be faster and more direct than the streetcar. it would have shorter wait times. it would extend to the U District. (see the AWV rapid trolley concepts).

    the streetcar is too difficult to squeeze into the streetscape. all the users want to go through the topographic saddlepoint of 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street (e.g., streetcar, bikes, buses, cars).

    • Gordon Werner says

      hey … I’d like to see a streetcar line run from Fremont along the old streetcar ROW up dexter to downtown (connecting with the SLUT where 7th ave crosses westlake.

    • Mike Orr says

      The voters already voted for a streetcar. ST can’t go back to them and say, “Guess what, how’d you like to have a trolleybus instead?” It’s the rail allure. The neighborhood could have asked ST to reinstate the old 9 between the U-district and Jackson, or to make a 49/60 trolleybus like you say. ST would have probably slapped their heads and said, “You just want a cheap trolleybus running on mostly exisiting wires? We can do that, and spend the difference on something else.”

  17. eddiew says

    in 1996, the voters for several projects they did not get, including the First Hill Link station that is the reason ST2 included a streetcar. other projects approved by the voters in 1996 but not provided included: the NE 45th Street, South Graham Street, and South 200th Street Link stations; a busway on I-90 bridge; several bus routes were changed or deleted; I-405 center access at NE 85th Street was used for other Kirkland projects; and, north Sounder is one-way, rather than two-way. so, today, Seattle should get the most First Hill transit mobility they can get for the ST2 money. The same amount of ST2 funds would be spent on First Hill, but it would be spent on an existing mode, rather than a new mode. I am not suggesting something cheaper, but something better (e.g., faster, more direct, more frequent) using new low-floor electric trolleybuses like Vancouver has. A key is for SDOT to treat the trolleybuses as they would treat a streetcar: in-lane stops, signal priority.



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